Allergies: 8 Common Trigger Foods

The most common food allergies, often referred to as the “Big 8,” are triggered by proteins in certain foods: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish, and these allergies typically result from an immune system response to specific proteins found in these foods.

Peanuts

Including peanut butter, mixed nuts, beer nuts, and peanut oil. Experts often caution those with peanut allergies to avoid tree nuts, due to cross-contamination risks. Plus, about one-third of those with an allergy to peanuts (legumes like beans) have or will develop an allergy to one or more true nuts, which grow on trees.

Common hidden sources

Sauces used in ethnic—Asian, African, and Mexican—meals (e.g., mole), candy, chocolate, sunflower seeds, and nut kinds of butter (which often are processed on shared equipment, so read labels to find ones that keep peanuts separate), some natural and artificial flavors and many other foods (i.e., read labels of all processed foods).

Delicious swaps and recipes

Peanuts

Including peanut butter, mixed nuts, beer nuts, and peanut oil. Experts often caution those with peanut allergies to avoid tree nuts, due to cross-contamination risks. Plus, about one-third of those with an allergy to peanuts (legumes like beans) have or will develop an allergy to one or more true nuts, which grow on trees.

Common hidden sources

Sauces used in ethnic—Asian, African, and Mexican—meals (e.g., mole), candy, chocolate, sunflower seeds, and nut kinds of butter (which often are processed on shared equipment, so read labels to find ones that keep peanuts separate), some natural and artificial flavors and many other foods (i.e., read labels of all processed foods).

Delicious swaps and recipes

  • Dip apples in a little honey instead of peanut butter.
  • Pop some popcorn when craving a crunchy, salty snack. (Cheese-popcorn with Brewers Yeast recipe)
  • Think outside the peanut butter-sandwich box: try turkey-cranberry, Cheddar-chutney, or goat cheese-roasted red pepper.

Dip apples in a little honey instead of peanut butter.

Pop some popcorn when craving a crunchy, salty snack. (Cheese-popcorn with Brewers Yeast recipe)

Think outside the peanut butter-sandwich box: try turkey-cranberry, Cheddar-chutney, or goat cheese-roasted red pepper

Eggs

Some people are so sensitive to egg proteins that cooking fumes can stoke an allergic reaction.

Common hidden sources

Ice creams, egg substitutes, pasta, candies, hot dogs, meatballs, bread, rolls and other baked goods, mayonnaise, meringues, marshmallows, nougat, and marzipan.

Delicious swaps and recipes

  • Substitute mashed avocado, hummus, or tapenade for mayo on sandwiches.
  • Scramble tofu with salsa, black beans, and a little cheese.
  • Make your frozen yogurt instead of eating commercial ice cream. (Berry Fresh Yogurt recipe)

Milk

Cow’s milk and all dairy food products—including butter, buttermilk, cheese, cream cheese, cream, half and half, ice cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, pudding, and sour cream—are made from it. Plus, many (but not all) people who are allergic to cow’s milk are also sensitive to proteins in goat’s milk and sheep’s milk.

Common Hidden Sources

Deli meats and hot dogs, veggie burgers, sorbet, canned tuna, chocolate, non-dairy creamers, commercial bread and rolls, salad dressings, and mayonnaise.

Delicious swaps and recipes

  • Substitute an equal amount of rice milk, soymilk, or almond milk in recipes.
  • Blend soy yogurt into smoothies.
  • Make a cheeseless pesto.
  • Bake cookies with non-hydrogenated margarine, soy/rice milk, and dairy-free chocolate chips.
  • Chili Pesto recipe

Fish

Fish including tuna, salmon, catfish, and more. Experts often caution those allergic to fish to be aware of the cross-contamination risks of eating shellfish and other seafood.

Common hidden sources

Caesar salad dressings (many contain anchovy paste), Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, caponata, and imitation crab meat (a.k.a. surimi).

Delicious swaps and recipes

  • Blend olives and sun-dried tomatoes into cream cheese as a substitute for smoked salmon on a bagel.
  • Prepare canned chicken as you would canned tuna. (Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe)

Tree nuts

Walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts and more. Experts often caution those with tree nut allergies to avoid peanuts too.

Common hidden sources

Cereals, chocolate, candies, marzipan, nougat, mortadella, pesto, and some natural and artificial flavors (i.e., read labels of all processed foods).

Delicious swaps and recipes

  • Mix your nut-free trail mix with a variety of favorite cereals, raisins, and banana chips.
  • Try whole-grain croutons in salads to mimic the crunchy texture of nuts.

Shellfish

Shrimp, crab, lobster, crawfish, and more. Experts often caution those allergic to fish to be aware of the cross-contamination risks of eating fish and other seafood.

Common hidden sources

Fish stocks, and flavorings (anything labeled “natural and artificial flavorings” may contain fish by-products).

Delicious swaps and recipes

  • Try risotto cakes instead of crab cakes. (Rice and Corn Cakes with Spicy Black Beans recipe)
  • Stir up a festive paella using a variety of meats and veggies instead of shellfish.

Wheat

Wheat-based pasta, cereals, bread, bran; wheat germ, wheat berries, semolina (a type of wheat used to make pasta), Kamut (used in cereals, crackers, and pasta), bulgur, and seitan.

Common hidden sources

Ice creams, bouillon cubes, potato chips, deli meats, french fries, soy sauce, many processed snacks (too many to list), breadcrumbs, couscous, spelt, hot dogs.

Delicious swaps and recipes

  • Experiment with different kinds of pasta, including those made from corn, brown rice, beans, and quinoa. (Quinoa with Latin flavors recipe)
  • Switch from flour to corn tortillas.
  • Use rice noodles for Asian-inspired dishes.

Soy

Soymilk, tofu, tempeh, edamame, soybeans, soy protein isolate, soy sauce, soy nuts, TVP or textured vegetable protein (defatted soy flour), tamari, miso.

Common hidden sources

Tuna, deli meats, hot dogs, vegetable broth, vegetable starch, textured vegetable protein, cereals, infant formulas, sauces, soups, and many vegetarian products.

Delicious swaps and recipes

  • Make a stir-fry with seitan (wheat gluten) or chicken, plus veggies, ginger, and garlic (skip the soy sauce!).
  • Try paneer (pressed Indian cheese) in your curry.
  • Enjoy fortified rice milk on cereal.
  • Dairy-free Banana Rice Pudding recipe

Author

  • Mama Vega

    Charmène Vega, widely known as Mama Vega, is a multifaceted individual with a diverse background that has shaped her into a dynamic author, nutrition expert, and PR professional. Before establishing Mama Vega Enterprises, she dedicated her time to education, having taught High School English. Her passion for empowering individuals to lead healthier lives led her to contribute nutrition articles for The Loop Newspaper in Tehachapi. Charmène's literary journey includes being a contributing author in two notable books: "Overcomer Redeemed Masterpiece," an international bestseller, and "Mental Wealth Tool-Kit: Tools to Achieve Mental Wellness." Her impact extends beyond collaboration, with six authored books available on Amazon. Among her published works are titles such as "I Don't Want the Neighbors to Know," "Now Chew On This...The Food Mood Poop Journal," "Now Chew On This... Boost Immunity = Eat Seasonally," "Now Chew On This...A Breath of Fresh Air," and "Now Chew On This...Harness Your Hormones to Optimize Your Health." Charmène Vega's influence extends to the realm of lifestyle and culture, as she writes for the prestigious Rogee of Beverly Hills magazine Charmène Vega's commitment to community service and leadership is exemplified by her recent addition to the Board of the Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary. In this role, she serves as their Public Relations (PR) person, contributing her skills and expertise to enhance the organization's outreach and communication efforts. Beyond her involvement with the Rotary, Charmène actively participates in the Bakersfield Blue Zone Project. Here, she takes on the role of a nutrition educator, conducting classes that delve into the intricacies of nutrition. Her classes go beyond the basics, incorporating detailed information about the nutritional benefits of each ingredient. Charmène’s approach includes sharing recipes along with the associated health benefits, providing a comprehensive understanding of the connection between food and well-being. Additionally, Charmène is recognized as a guest nutrition expert on the Blue Zone Project Wednesday Wellness sessions. This involvement underscores her dedication to promoting healthy living within the community. By sharing her knowledge and expertise, she contributes to the overall well-being of individuals involved in the Blue Zone Project, fostering a culture of health and wellness. Charmène Vega's multifaceted contributions to community organizations like the Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary and the Blue Zone Project showcase her passion for making a positive impact on the lives of others through education, nutrition, and overall well-being. Charmène's dedication to education, health, and community shines through her various roles, making her a true inspiration for those seeking a holistic approach to life.